Thousands of older residents across Staffordshire have received a letter from the Chief Fire Officer as part of a safety boosting campaign.
"People in this age group are at a far greater risk of becoming the victim of a house fire which is why it is absolutely vital that all possible safety precautions are taken. It is no exaggeration to say that having working smoke alarms fitted on each floor of your property can save your life and your family’s life. I would also encourage anyone who has an older or vulnerable friend, relative or neighbour who may struggle to check their own smoke detector, to help to keep them safe by testing the equipment for them or to call us to make an appointment for an in-depth 'Safe and Well' visit."
Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford
Statistics show that the majority of people who lose their lives in accidental house fires are over 65. Those over the age of 80 are 10 times more likely to die in a fire than those aged 30.
The Service has now issued a call to action to help people avoid becoming the victim of a blaze in their home.
It has sent a four-page information leaflet to around 20,000 homes in the boroughs of Newcastle and Stafford.
People are being urged to protect themselves by fitting smoke alarms on each level of their property and testing them on a regular basis.
A stamped postcard has been sent with the letter asking people to confirm that their smoke alarms have been tested, either by themselves or by someone they know. Alternatively, they can tick a box to say that they haven’t got any smoke alarms and would like to be contacted to have the devices fitted free of charge by the Service.
The letter also features an array of safety advice including information on cooking, electrical appliances, smoking, open fires, heating and preventing falls in the home.
Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford said: "Older people can be particularly vulnerable during the winter when the temperatures plummet, often leaving them isolated in their homes, or at increased risk of falling and suffering serious even potentially life-threatening injuries if they do venture outside and it is slippery underfoot.
"As a Service, our ethos is that prevention is far better than cure which is why we have targeted residents who are 65 and over with this mail shot and why are working closely with both Public Health England and Age UK to ensure that our residents stay as safe and healthy as possible. We believe that by educating people on how to protect themselves in their homes, we can literally save lives and improve health and wellbeing.
"People in this age group are at a far greater risk of becoming the victim of a house fire which is why it is absolutely vital that all possible safety precautions are taken. It is no exaggeration to say that having working smoke alarms fitted on each floor of your property can save your life and your family’s life. I would also encourage anyone who has an older or vulnerable friend, relative or neighbour who may struggle to check their own smoke detector, to help to keep them safe by testing the equipment for them or to call us to make an appointment for an in-depth ‘Safe and Well’ visit."
The campaign links in with a ground-breaking project that the Service is carrying out in partnership with Public Health England.
Staffordshire is one of just three fire and rescue services taking part in the ‘Winter Pressures’ pilot which benefits people aged 65 and over along with vulnerable residents and those with complex needs.
As well as reducing the risk of a fire, they aim to decrease health risks such as falls, loneliness and isolation which will, in turn, result in a reduction of people attending A&E, suffering broken hips and experiencing depression.
It has also teamed up with colleagues from North and South Staffs Age UK, Age UK Stafford and Age UK Burton to run the SAfER – Sustained Action for Evidencing Reduction of Risk – scheme.
Firefighters are using evidence from a range of data sources in an attempt to reduce excess winter deaths, A&E admissions and demand on acute services while carrying out extended ‘Safe and Well Checks’ in the homes of older people.
The Service is urging older people who have not yet benefitted from a safe and well assessment to book one as soon as possible by calling 0800 0241 999, texting 07528 983101 or visiting www.staffordshirefire.gov.uk/bookyourhfrc.asp
During the HFRC visits, crew members or trained technicians check every room in a property for potential fire hazards and speak to residents about their everyday behaviour in the home. Using this information, they try to identify anything that may increase the risk of a fire. They can also fit new smoke alarms.